Archive for Saturday, October 31, 1998


October 31, 1998


— Three performing arts agencies are collaborating on a project to boost and diversify their audiences.

The Lied Center and two Kansas City performing arts agencies now have the necessary money to move ahead with a collaborative project mixing dance and jazz.

Jackie Davis, executive director of the Lied Center, announced Friday that the Lawrence performance hall, the State Ballet of Missouri and the Gem Theater Cultural and Performing Arts Center have been awarded a $131,945 grant from the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Arts Partners Program for their "Jazz Train" project.

The announcement came during a press conference at the Gem Theater, in Kansas City's historic 18th and Vine district.

"We wanted to add to our audiences, and diversify our audiences," Davis said, explaining that the possibility of the arts agencies working together on a single project was first discussed more than a year ago. " ... Our vision was to bring the communities together around a theme."

The "Jazz Train" project will begin in the fall of 1999, and culminate with a performance of "Jazz Train" on April 15, 2000, at the Lied Center. Choreographer Donald Byrd and jazz composers Max Roach, Vernon Reid and Geri Allen will be in attendance during various phases of the project and for the performance of "Jazz Train."

Lane Czaplinski, education director at the Lied Center, said other activities associated with the project include a series of story circles in Lawrence and Kansas City that will allow residents to talk about how they participated in or were influenced by the area's jazz and dance history; workshops by Byrd and local artists in movement and choreography; a lecture series on different jazz styles; jazz jam sessions; a jazz film series; a fashion show; and a jazz pub crawl.

"It's a new age for the arts, not just on stages but in our communities," Pat Jordan, president of the Gem Theater Cultural and Performing Arts Center, said.

Bill Whitener, artistic director at the State Ballet of Missouri, read a statement by Byrd, who was unable to attend the event. Byrd said he saw the grant as "a seed to provoke curiosity" between the Lawrence and Kansas City arts communities and an opportunity for the agencies to "cross-pollinate" audiences.

The Lied Center, Gem Theater and State Ballet of Missouri received a $14,860 grant in 1997 to plan the "Jazz Train" project.

-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is

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